A Tempur-Pedic mattress isn't any more toxic than other mattresses -- unless you buy an organic mattress -- as all mattresses contain petroleum-based chemicals, synthetic fibers and fire-retardants. These volatile organic chemicals result in off-gassing that can affect those with allergies, chemical sensitivities or asthma. When you buy any new mattress, let it air out for at least 24 to 48 hours after removing it from its packaging -- outside is best -- to rid it of most of the off-gassing. If it's not feasible to air it outdoors, put it in a room that you can close off and open the windows, or set an air purifier inside the room.
Memory Foam Off-Gassing
Most complaints about memory foam mattress have to do with the off-gassing that occurs as soon as you remove the packaging from the bedding. Because the packaging goes on right after the mattress is made, the mattress doesn't have a chance to air out. Memory foam mattresses are notorious for the initial smell, which dissipates with time. In surveys completed by Sleep Like the Dead, a mattress research firm, memory foam mattresses represent the bedding with the most owner complaints about smell. The odor results from the breakdown of the volatile organic compounds that occurs.
If you can't afford an organic mattress, author Jane Sheppard of "Super Healthy Kids: Strengthening Your Child's Resistance to Disease," and owner of the Healthy Baby website, suggests that you protect yourself or your children from the chemicals in the mattress by covering it with a clear, 5-mil.-thick polyurethane-based plastic mattress cover that keeps the chemicals from seeping into the air. Do not use vinyl mattress covers, as these let off chemical toxins as well.